July 11, 2019
I’m often asked “should I or should I not carry X as a weapon?” where X could be anything: a firearm or knife, pepper spray or a stun gun, even the pointy kitty cat ears or a set of keys that poke up between your fingers.
The answer to that question is that you can carry whatever you want and it's never a bad idea to have some tools available. However, you should understand that if you get ambushed, if you're surprised by somebody who has a violent intent towards you, the odds of you actually having that tool in your hand and ready to go at that precise moment are slim.
You might. But most of us don't walk around 24/7 or sleep with pepper spray in our hands. Most of us don't live with a firearm, not just in hand, but also loaded with a round chambered and ready to fire.
The odds are good that your tool is not going to be available in the instant that you need it. And even if you aren't taken by surprise and happen to have your tool in hand, there will be a short period of time where your cognitive brain is trying to catch up to what's happening and your reptilian brain is in charge.
Your reptilian brain is lightning fast because it only has one job which is survival. Your cognitive brain, the thinking part, which is where all of these wonderful tools and techniques are managed, is a little slow to catch up to the action; it may take a few seconds and until you get through that initial shock, you can't even think enough to use an external tool that requires fine or complex motor skills to use.
Have you ever been in a hurry or been scared and tried to put your key in the lock or enter an access code to get into your front door? If you have, you know that when you’re adrenalized, anxious or in a hurry, it's very hard to do. That's because it's a fine motor skill that requires thought.
Imagine being terrified and surprised and trying to dig in your purse to get your firearm out or to reach in your backpack and pull out your stun gun, and then actually be able to use it. It's very difficult.
Tools like these can be useful, as long as you understand that they're secondary. They're not going to be accessible and useable in the instant unless you're very, very, very lucky.
Ambushes, when you're taken by surprise and your response is driven by hard-wired physiological responses (flinching and pushing away the threat, primal & gross-motor movements), are situations where it's nearly impossible to use a weapon effectively.
Situations where you might be able to use a weapon are generally those where you have a bit of warning or notice that danger is coming. Perhaps an argument is escalating, tempers are getting hot and the level of anger & aggression is rising. Maybe there's a commotion in the distance, on the other side of the room or down the street. Or maybe someone is pounding on your locked door and shouting threats.
All of those situations are ones where you have time. That small window of time allows your cognitive brain to catch up with the action after the initial “Oh sh$t, what's happening” moment that engages your reptilian brain. And when your cognitive brain (the one that's good at analyzing situations and solving problems) is in charge, that's when you can access and use tools, whether they're physical things like a Taser or a kitchen knife or skills you've acquired like martial arts techniques.
If you have a self-defense tool, no matter what kind it is, you have to train with it and run through scenarios where you actually experience getting through the first “Oh CRAP!” moments and reaching the point where you actually can draw your firearm, pull out your pepper spray, grab the knitting needle out of your bag etc. Because unless you actually practice, it will be very hard to do in real life.
I would, and I do. I like to have options. But I don’t rely on them, or expect to be able to use them if I find myself in a unexpectedly dangerous situation. I will never allow my safety or survival to depend on having a particular tool or weapon in my possession. When it comes right down to it, the only weapon I KNOW I’ll be able to access and use is my all-natural, powerful and effective body, my #humanweaponsystem.
By all means have a weapon or two, and practice with them so you are comfortable and confident about using them. But make sure you learn about and train yourself in Instrinsic Self Defense as well, so you too are aware of and capable of using your own body’s protective abilities – you’ll never be without them, you won’t forget them, and they can’t be taken away from you or used against you, as can happen with an external weapon.
Stay tuned for a post on the Pros and Cons of specific weapons! And if you haven't already joined the Born to Be a Badass Collective on Facebook, click here!